Mills playing best hockey this year
by Kevin Parnell
November 3, 1999
The Quesnel Millionaires appear to be getting the message: hard work pays off.
The Mills played the best hockey of their season on the weekend, hammering Prince George 7-3 Friday night before losing a tight 5-3 decision to Merritt, the BCHL's top team.
On Saturday, Quesnel led Merritt 2-1 after the first period on goals by Paul Kelley and Brent McMann, his first as a Millionaire, but gave up three second period goals, and ended up losing 5-3.
"It was unbelievable," said coach Dale Marquette, clearly elated with his team's play on the weekend. "We were all over Merritt. They couldn't get out of their own end. But we couldn't put them away when we had the chance."
On Friday against Prince George, the Millionaires come out flying in front of an estimated 720 fans, the biggest gate since opening night, and played their best game since last Christmas.
"I'm very happy." said Marquette. "We worked out butts off for 120 minutes on the weekend. I think the players got a good start to understanding how they have to play to be competitive."
Friday night's win came at the expense of former Millionaire goalie Dean Schultz who was victimized for five of the Mills' goals, including a slapshot from Rob Simnor from near centre ice that went off Schultz's glove and into the net, prompting King's coach Glen Watson to pull Schultz.
Captain Nick Udovicic led the locals on the weekend with two goals and two assists Friday night and two helpers Saturday.
Udovicic was named the BCHL's Interior division player of the week for his efforts.
"It feels good," said the Burnaby native. "But it also felt better to win. I'm excited about finally winning. It feels good to win and know that we will be in hockey games."
Udovicic now has 26 points on the season, moving him into the top 25 scorers in the league.
Marquette has been preaching conditioning and work ethic since taking over the team in mid-September.
"It all starts with work ethic," he said. "We need to compete hard every night in order to be in hockey games."
Despite playing better of late, the Millionaires continue to do it with more injury problems.
Forward Rob Lommer is out with a foot injury while Rob Simnor (foot) and newcomer TRoy White (shoulder) both messed the Merritt game and are considered day to day.
Defenseman Collin Lloyd (knee) and forward Brent Heaven (wrist) are both out until November 15th. when they will come off injured reserve.
Quesnel hits the road for three games this weekend with stops in Merritt, Penticton and Vernon.
Mills attendance up
by Kevin Parnell
November 7, 1999
DESPITE WHAT has been a trying start to the season for the Quesnel Millionaires, the fans haven't turned their backs on the club as of yet.
Mills' president Kit Collins said this week that average attendance so far this season is up marginally from last season.
The average attendance is around 500 people, with the largest two crowds being between 800 and 750, for the season opener and last week's win over Prince George.
The 500 average attendance is about the break-even point for the club money wise, said Collins.
"With smart spending, that can keep us out of trouble," she said. "There are many things we could do if we got more people. There is absolutely no comfort zone, and there never has been. But this club has to be proud of where it's gone. We ran a deficit to get into the BCHL, but we're not doing that anymore."
It's no mystery that if Quesnel put a winning team on the ice, the fans would flock to the Quesnel Twin Arenas. But even with the club's 3-14 and 3 record heading into the weekend, the mills have become a hard working team, and fans appreciate that, win or lose.
"If a fan has to leave knowing the team didn't work as hard as they could, they're not happy." said Collins. "Mistakes are made, but if the hard work is there, those mistakes are forgiven. We have absolutely no doubt that Quesnel would pack this barn if we started winning."
Collins said she is extremely happy with the job coach and general manager Dale Marquette is doing as he tries to turn a perennial losing team around.
"I think we have our guy," she said. "We're always saying Quesnel is such a hard recruit. But a young man can come in and be part of a closely knit team and be coached by a highly skilled coach. They might not get that elsewhere."
As for as the fans are concerned, Collins would like to see an average of 800, and feels the club is close to being able to draw that many.
We feel we're just inches away from being that competative team to bring in 800 a night."
Mills top tenth ranked Cents
by Kevin Parnell
November 10, 1999
THE QUESNEL Millionaires continue to make positive strides this season in the BCHL, earning easily their biggest win of the season on the weekend.
The Millionaires earned a hard fought 1-0 shootout victory over Merritt, the BCHL's best team and the tenth ranked junior A team in Canada, to kick off a three game road trip Friday night.
The Mills held off a hard charging Merritt team in the first period, being outshot 14-5, before outshooting the Centennials 25-16 the rest of the game, and 4-2 in the five minute overtime session.
But goaltenders Jason Montgomery of Quesnel and Merritt's Jamie McCaig wouldn't budge and the shoot-out was needed to break the scoreless tie.
In the shoot-out, Quesnel's Paul Kelley and Merritt's Ryan Minnabarriet each scored before the final two shooters. Brent McMann then netted the second marker for Quesnel before Montgomery made the final stop, giving Quesnel the victory.
"It was an excellent game, the whole weekend was really good," said coach Dale Marquette.
In Penticton the next night, against the Interior division's second place team, the Mills had a 2-0 lead early in the second period before the Panthers tied the game and won it on a power play goal in the third.
"We never had a power play all night and we had four power plays against," said Marquette. "We were pretty happy even though we lost. That's a team that Quesnel has always had trouble with."
The next stop on the trip was in Vernon on Sunday and a tired Millionaires' team gave up three goals in each of the first two periods en route to a 7-4 loss.
The Mills' record now sits at 4-14 and -3 and has them in fifth in the six team Interior division.
Individually on the weekend, Rob Lommer had one goal and four assists, Nick Udovicic had two goals and Paul Kelley had two assists while rookie defenseman Brett Gilmour netted his first goal of the season.
The Mills have a chance for revenge Thursday night when Vernon comes to the Quesnel Twin Arenas.
"In the Sunday game (against Vernon), we came out hoping for a vounce rather than creating our won bounces, and we weren't plysical," said Marquette. "We plan on being a lot more plysical and playing a full 60 minutes."
Quesnel will also host Penticton Saturday night.
Mils hammer Vernon 9 - 1
by Kevin Parnell
November 14, 1999
HARD WORK, tough practices and a simple game plan paid off in spades Thursday night at the Quesnel Twin Arenas as the Quesnel Millionaires earned their most impressive win of the BCHL season.
The Millionaires out-skated, out-hit and out-played the Vernon Vipers, blasting last year's National junior A champion 9 -1 in front of one of the bigger home-ice crowds of the season, improving their record to 5-16-and-3.
"We've been playing that way for awhile, but we've been on the road," said head coach Dale Marquette outside a jubilant dressing room Thursday night. "our fans deserved the opportunity to see us play the way we have been."
The Millionaires played simple, physical hockey against the Vipers, currently third in the BCHL's Interior division.
A tenacious forecheck, solid play in their own end and a physical presence had the Vipers stymied from the get-go.
"It's all about hard work," said team captain Nick Udovicic, who had a goal and two assists. "If we work hard, we'll win games. Our rink is our pride. We should never get outworked at home. Everybody pulled their weight, that's what it takes to win."
Brett Barefoot, who played easily his best game of the season, opened the scoring on a snap-shot that eluded goalie Chris King at 5:44 of the first period.
Barefoot, a defenseman playing forward, had several big hits and was a presence on the forecheck all night.
Kelly Riou, who got off to a slowstart this season, showed the scoring prowess that was advertised, as he out-waited King and put a backhander high into the net to make it 2-0 late in the first. Riou finished the night with two goals and one assist.
The Mills stormed Vernon in the second period, scoring three times in the first ten minutes, chasing King from the net, and putting the game out of reach.
All that was left to be determined was goalie Bill Dick's shutout bid and tough guy Chad Shiel's long awaited first scrap at home.
Chris Vail's marker off a face-off at 18:39 of the second period ruined the young tenders hopes of a goose egg, but didn't overshadow his brilliant performance.
Dick make several big saves early in the game that kept the Vipers off the board and was named the game's first star.
As for the fisticuffs, Shiel did drop his gloves late in the game but couldn't get loose in his scrap with Barclay Folk.
Kevin Nelson capped off his night by winning a clear decision when he dropped the gloves with Nick Ringstad.
Former Mill prospect involved in dispute
by Kevin Parnell & Doyle Potenteau
November 14, 1999
A FORMER Quesnel Millionaire prospect will have to wait a little while longer before becoming a full-fledged member of the BC Hockey League and the Nanaimo Clippers.
And when defenseman Jim Beckerley does play, it may cost the Quesnel Millionaires a player or cash.
Beckerley has embroiled himself in a bitter dispute between Nanaimo, his former club the Kimberley Dynamiters, and the B.C. Amateur Hockey Association.
And because of a preseason trade between Quesnel and Nanaimo, the Mills may be asked to compensate the Clipppers.
Here's the skinny: Beckerley was property of the Quesnel Millionaires at season's beginning.
After briefly attending the Mills' training camp, his rights were shipped to Nanaimo for two players.
Instead Beckerley went to Kimberley, where he played last season in the RMJHL, eventually signing a player card on September 5th.
Five days later, Nanaimo coach Bill Bestwick, who according to both the BCAHA and the BCHL, knew Beckerley had signed with Kimberley, made him an officcial Clipper.
Kimberley cried foul and the BCAHA stepped in, fining Nanaimo $3,000 and handing down a stiff 10-game suspension to Bestwick on November 4th.
"B.C. Amateur had no choice in the matter but to suspend him and fine the club," said BCHL president Ron Boileau.
As for the Quesnel Millionaires, it appears the deal they made to get rid of Beckerly has pulled them into the dispute.
The Mills obtained Beckerley's rights (along with Ryan Bremner) from Penticton for Jessie Martini, but when Beckerley balked at playing here, then coach and g.m. Ken Gassoff engineered a brilliant trade.
Beckerley's rights were shipped to Nanaimo were shipped to nanaimo for Reid Litster and goalie Bill Dick, getting two quality players for a player who never suited up for the Mills.
At the time, Litster wasn't playing with Nanaimo while Dick was in the WHL's Kamloops Blazers' training camp and his arrival in Quesnel was uncertain.
Both have since become intetral to the Mills' team with Litster playing on the top line and Dick teaming with Jason Montgomery for a solid pairing in net. But Boileau say Quesnel may owe Nanimo compensation.
"They (Quesnel) traded him to Nanaimo and he was deemed an illegal player, so restitution will have to be made between Nanaimo and Quesnel," said Boileau. "I've asked the two clubs to have a discussion on it."
Boileau said Quesnel could owe Nanaimo a future player or cash.
But Gassoff says Quesnel did everything according to the rules.
"He came to training camp and we decided to trade him to Nanaimo," said Gassoff. "I don't see where we could have gone wrong, it was all legal. We had obtained his rights from Penticton."
As for Beckerley's future, Boileau said the BCAHA will likley step in if no deal is made between Nanaimo and Kimberley by the end of the weekend, adding they could void Beckerley's card with Kimberley and make him property of the Clippers.
"Beckerley is now Kimberley's property, and if Kimberley doesn't strike a deal with Nanaimo by the end of the weekend, I think BC Amateur will force them to make a deal," he said.
Mills make it two in a row
by Kevin Parnell
November 17, 1999
Two days after trouncing the Vernon Vipers, the Quesnel Millionaires made it two home ice wins in a row, with an impressive 3-1 win over the Penticton Panthers Saturday night.
The Mills once again put in a solid, 60 minute effort to hand the Panthers, the BCHL Interior Division's second place team, their seventh loss of the season.
"We played a good game all the way around," said head coach Dale Marquette. "We concentrated on taking the body and slowing their big forwards down."
The Mills opened the scoring at 4:31 of the first period on Rob Lommer's seventh of the season.
Lommer made it 2-0 at 17:57 of the second before Penticton closed the gap to 2-1 early in the third.
But an empty net goal by Reid Litster with just seven seconds to play cemented the win.
It was Quesnel's second straight win and improved their redord to 6-16-and-3, 13 points behind Vernon and Prince George, who are tied for third place in the Interior Division.
In the past nine days, the Mills have earned wins over Merritt, ranked tenth in Canada at the time; last year's Canadian junior A Champion Vernon Vipers; and now Penticton, considered one of the top teams in the BCHL.
"They've accepted any challenge the coaches put before them," said Marquette. "And it's not just the last two games, it's been the last ten games or more."
Marquette has instilled a work ethic that is now paying off in the win column. Quesnel is playing hard and smart, getting the puck out of the defensive end and outworking the opposition.
"I think (the difference is) positional play, understanding their role and making a commitment to be the best they can be," Marquette said.
Goaltending, the biggest question mark at the beginning of the season, has been outstanding, as Jason Montgomery and Bill Dick share duties.
On Saturday, it was Montgomery's turn to shine, making 35 saves and earning his third win of the season.
Thursday against Vernon, Dick won his second game of the year, making 36 saves.
"Both goalies were great back to back," said Marquette. "The team is playing with so much confidence, no matter which goalie is in net."
Kelly Riou, the 20-year-old aquired for his scoring touch, is finally chipping in offensively and has made a difference. Riou, from Saskatoon, was named the Interior Division's Player of the Week, after earning two goals and two assists in the two Millionaire wins. He now has eight goals and 10 helpers in 22 games played.
The news is also good on the injury front as forward Brent Heaven (broken hand) and forward/defenseman Collin Lloyd (knee) are both off the injury list and may be ready to play by the weekend.
But that means the Mills will have to release a player as they have one more than the allowed number of carded players.
Up Next The Mills head out on the road for a three game swing, Thursday in Penticton, Friday in Trail, and Saturday in Merritt. Mills next home game is November 27th when they host the Merritt Centennials.
Mills hammered to begin road trip
by Kevin Parnell
November 21, 1999
IT DIDN'T take long for the Penticton Panthers to extract revenge on the Quesnel Millionaires for a 3-1 loss last weekend at the Quesnel Twin Arenas.
The Panthers hammered Quesnel 9-3 Thursday Thursday night as the Mills kicked off an important three-game road swing in Penticton.
Quesnel actually held first period leads of 1-0 and 2-1 before the wheels fell off in the second period.
Kevin Nelson opened the scoring at 4:14 of the first period on assists from Brent McMann and Travis Jeck.
For Nelson, it was his eighth goal of the year.
Penticton answered back less than two minutes later to tie the score at one.
Kelly Riou restored the one goal lead at 7:56 of the first with his ninth of the season. Paul Kelley and Reid Litster earned the helpers.
Despite being outshot 20-11, Quesnel entered the second period with a 2-1 lead.
In the second period, starting goaltender Bill Dick couldn't hold the fort any longer as the Panthers stromed the Quesnel net, putting five goals past Dick in the first 13:42 of the period, including three shorthanded markers.
Quesnel's leading scorer, Nick Udovicic, had thel one goal for Quesnel the rest of the way, netting his 16th of the season from Litster and Kelley.
Penticton put three goals past Montgomery in the thrid period to make the final 9-3.
"We played pretty good up until halfway through the second," said coach Dale Marquette. "We had some guys really take the easy way out. We played timid and scared the 30 minutes and stunk the place out."
The loss dropped the Millionaires to 6-17-and-3 and snapped a modest two game winning streak.
FERSTER RELEASED BY LOCAL CLUB - THE NUMBERS game has caught up with Quesnel Minor Hockey product Ian Ferster.
Ferster, one of three local players on the Millionaires, was released by the team prior to the club's three game road trip this weekend.
The decision to cut the 19-year-old Ferster was made because injured players Collin Lloyd and Brent Heaven came off a 30 day injured list and left the Mills with 22 carded players, one over the limit.
Ferster had two goals and five assists in 24 games this season.
Mills lose to BCHL's worst; top league's best
by Kevin Parnell
November 24, 1999
The Quesnel Millionaires are becoming a hard team to figure.
After being blown out in Penticton, and losing 5-3 to Trail, the BCHL's worst team, the Mills handed the Merritt Centennials a 6-4 loss to salvage a three game road trip.
"The weekend had a little bit of everything," said coach Dale Marquette. "It had highs and lows and mediums. We had plenty of chances to win (against Trail) and didn't finish them off. Those are the kind of games we need to learn to win."
The 6-4 win in Merritt the following day was the second win over the Cents, now the 12th ranked junior A team in Canada, in two weeks.
They'll meet again Saturday night in Quesnel.
Walshe walkout leaves big hole
by Kevin Parnell
November 24, 1999
Hulking defenseman Devin Walshe has decided to quit hockey and has left the Quesnel Millionaires to return to his home in Langley.
"There are some personal issues. I'm not really that happy," the six-foot-three-inch, 225 pound Walshe said after addressing his teammates Tuesday morning. "It's nothing to do with the organization. I just need some time."
Walshe has played in every one of Quesnel's 28 games so far this season, picking up one goal, six assists and 21 penalty minutes.
He struggled early in the year but has improved under Marquette, enough that US College Scouts have begun to show an interest in him.
"Devin has excellent talent and the opportunity that a lot of players don't have," said Marquette. "Myself and the players are disappointed, but we need to support our teammate. I hope Devin can get everything in order and make a decision in the next few weeks whether he wants this life."
Most BCHL players aim for a college scholarship and Walshe was no different. But school and other personal issues have changed his focus.
"Looking down the road, I'm 18 and I still need 6 classes to graduate," said Walshe. "Getting a college scolarship was my major goal but I think the hockey aspect has put a downplay on that. I'm not into the sport right now."
Walshe stressed his decision has nothing to do with the Millionaires' organization.
"It's a great hockey town and a great organization," he said. "You feel like you're part of a family. It's not like a lot of clubs that are uptight."
Although Walshe's departure leaves a hole on the blueline, there is no shortage of defenseman with the team. Both Brett Barefoot and Collin Lloyd are defensemen who have been playing forward.
For now, Walshe will remain on the Mills' roster. He's expected to make a final decision on his future by early December when the Mills play in Surrey.